GFA Opinion

A Reflection on Life as an African Startup Founder at 30

Turning 30 marks a significant milestone in one’s life, a time for reflection and celebration.  

In a recent post on LinkedIn, Zach shared a captivating year-by-year breakdown of his transformative journey, highlighting the pivotal moments that shaped his path.  

Zach Bjesse, a co-founder of Payhippo, has embarked on an extraordinary voyage filled with diverse encounters and notable accomplishments. This transformative journey has led him from his roots as an activist and math teacher to the esteemed position of CEO in a fintech startup that has successfully raised more than $5 million.  

Join us as we review Zach’s own thoughts and reflections and gain valuable insights into the challenges he overcame, the lessons he learned, and the milestones he achieved along the way. 

20 Years Old: Activism and Empowerment 

At the age of 20, our protagonist was already making waves as a social justice activist and a competitive weightlifter. His commitment to creating change extended beyond physical strength, as they established the official sports club for strength sports at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, empowering others to embrace his strength and passion. 

21 Years Old: Entrepreneurial Spirit Ignites 

The desire to make a difference led our protagonist to venture into the world of entrepreneurship. He launched a mobile health app, aiming to compete with established platforms like MyFitnessPal and Noom. This early foray into the world of startups foreshadowed the passion and resilience that would become his driving force. 

22 Years Old: Teaching and Growth 

Taking on a new role as a teacher at Success Academy Charter Schools, our protagonist discovered his initial struggles in the classroom. However, his unwavering determination and commitment to their students led him to embrace a data-driven teaching style, ultimately winning a prestigious teaching award. This experience laid the foundation for their future endeavours. 

23 Years Old: Embracing Data and Achieving Success 

Fully immersing themselves in a data-driven teaching approach, our protagonists witnessed the remarkable impact it had on their students’ learning. This newfound teaching method not only transformed their classroom but also provided them with valuable insights and skills in data analysis—a skill set that would prove invaluable in their entrepreneurial journey. 

24 Years Old: Discovering Entrepreneurship in Nigeria 

An internship at West Africa Vocational Education (WAVE) in Nigeria exposed our protagonist to the world of entrepreneurship in a new context. Inspired by this experience, they started an entrepreneurship club for their middle school students, nurturing their entrepreneurial thinking from a young age and planting seeds of innovation. 

26 Years Old: Payhippo is Born 

The pivotal moment arrived when our protagonist, alongside their co-founders, Chioma Okotcha and Uche Nnadi, launched Payhippo—an innovative fintech startup aimed at providing financing and financial services to Nigerian SMEs. This marked the beginning of their entrepreneurial journey, driven by a passion for empowering small businesses and driving economic growth. 

28-30 Years Old: Overcoming Challenges and Scaling Heights 

The years that followed were marked by both adversity and triumph. Despite navigating the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic and various crises in Nigeria, our protagonist’s determination and resilience led to significant growth for Payhippo. He successfully raised funding rounds, maintained a remarkable collections rate, and diversified his product offerings, solidifying his position as a trailblazer in the fintech industry. 

Looking Ahead 

As they embark on their 30s, our protagonist’s enthusiasm is infectious. His journey has been guided by a fundamental principle: finding fulfilment by working on meaningful problems that align with his vision of the world. His passion for creating positive change and transforming industries is palpable, and we can’t wait to witness what the next 10 years hold for this visionary individual. 

The remarkable journey from activist to CEO exemplifies the power of passion, purpose, and perseverance. It serves as a reminder that no matter the challenges faced or the twists and turns along the way, unwavering dedication to a vision can lead to remarkable achievements. 

His story serves as an inspiration to others, demonstrating that age is never a barrier to achieving greatness. It reminds us that the path to success is rarely linear, but rather a series of unexpected twists and turns that shape our character and resilience. 

About GetFundedAfrica 

GetFundedAfrica is a cloud-based technology platform specializing in developing software that helps businesses to fundraise, grow, and tell their stories. Whether you want to raise funds ranging from $100k to $50m, scale your business or share your entrepreneurial journey, sign up for free at 

Silas Ugochi

Silas Ugochi is a Staff Writer and Content Creator at GetFundedAfrica. Ugochi is an educated content writer who relishes using her skills to help GetFundedAfrica's Media Team achieve the goal of sharing the success stories of African entrepreneurs. When she isn't writing articles, she can be found listening to music, reading, or DJing.

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